Zimbabwe heading for reversal, regression and more sterility: Biti
Opinion by Tendai Biti
If the election of Jacob Mudenda as Speaker of parliament is anything to go by, then Zimbabwe is heading for reversal, regression and more sterility.
This man has been around for a long time. Now in the late summer of his life like most of them, he has not been known for anything associated with progress and uplifting our people.
He was provincial governor for Matabeleland North during Gukurahundi era, and those who know him well speak of his complicity and downright co-operation as the forces of evil decimated lives and rearranged destinies, playing God with souls.
Since February, he had been controversially appointed chair of the important Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, a body which unless there is a fundamental paradigm shift is all but dead.With such a rich history of nothingness, the man is now the Speaker of parliament.
How long is this country going to be tied to the primitive reward system of patronage over competence and ability? An incentive system based on the loyalty of bootlicking as opposed to the loyalty of delivery and performance?
A system where meritocracy does not exist but the length of one’s tongue and the reach of the same.
I see that former deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara has joined this band wagon. At least his sidekick, Paul Mavhima had the courage of openly joining the “Revolutionary Party” and riding into parliament on the back of some seat in Gokwe.
The rocket scientist prefers the rickety, but smelly route of using his long tongue.
I thought those of our generation would remain true to some modicum of principle, but in these days of immorality, values of chivalry, consistency and ability to stand up to one’s cause have really gone to the dogs.
I thought this was the essence of the October 4 generation and values from same. Lovemore Madhuku, Munyaradzi Gwisai, the late Sam Matsangaise and others must be puking somewhere. Our children’s children will desecrate on our graves. Shame.
But the shamelessness is not a monopoly of local actors. They do not come as poorly written and as mendacious as the latest report from Sadc Election Observer Mission. It is not even clear what the document is.
Recall that an interim report was given and therefore the whole world is waiting on a final report of the July 31 elections. This is not Sadc’s final report but a poorly-written four-page document headed Summary Statement of the Sadc Election Observation Mission to the Harmonised Elections in the Republic of Zimbabwe Held on 31 July 2013.
The document is not and does not purport to be a summary of the final report. In fact, all references to factual issues are derived from the interim report. Put in simple terms, it is not based on any fresh facts other than those contained in the interim report.
Without any new facts being proffered, the document is an opinion, an attempt to fill in and twist new conclusions not supported and not made in the interim report. What are those conclusions that have to be made even though no new evidence has been supplied and no final report has been produced?
Well the report itself is very open on this, it says: “As you may recall the main message in the preliminary report was that the elections in Zimbabwe were free and peaceful.
However, we had reserved the two issues of ‘fairness and credibility’ deliberately waiting for the compilation of the reports from our observers in the covered constituencies. Therefore, that is what I am going to do today.”
You can fool others sometime, sang the late and great Bob Marley, but you cannot fool everyone all the time. As said before, no final report has been produced. Bernard Membe, the Tanzanian Foreign minister, makes no reference to the observer reports he alludes to above, other than the interim report.
Then following a tortuous process of dishonest reasoning, he arrives at the dishonest new conclusion that the election was “free, peaceful and generally credible”.
What in the world does generally credible mean? It is either credible or not. The point is that credibility pertains to legality, correctness and sustainability. There is no middle of the road.
Credibility is not a subjective concept, it is a legal objective concept. The concept of freeness is one that is subjective, flexible and elastic.
The interim report cited so many things that impeached on the credibility of this election. These included:
the issue of the flawed voter registration exercise;
the failure to provide the voters roll to the parties;
challenges around the special vote;
the media challenges;
challenges with printing of ballot papers; and
use of voter registration slips.
These are things that cannot be washed away. They are real. Where in the world do parties go to any election without a voters’ roll? Under what circumstances do you call that credible or generally credible?
Why not, Membe, measure these elections against Sadc guidelines? The thing is Membe, one plus one, no matter what you do, can never be equal to seven. It can never be “generally seven”.
But why are all these shenanigans being done even at this late stage? The point is that of legitimacy. As long as the elections have remained stuck with the suffix of free, fair and credible, legitimacy will always be an issue.
The consequences of illegality are that Zimbabweans should be allowed once again to choose a leader of their own choice. The consequences are that no normal, self-respecting country can properly engage with our country at a time when massive capital is required. The consequences are that we will remain mired in the quagmire of predatory, exhausting politics.
But legitimacy will not be bestowed from a poorly-written statement from an individual. It is important for Sadc to be fair to the people of Zimbabwe. It is important for Sadc to respect the people of Zimbabwe and to recognise that Zimbabwe is bigger than the interests of Zanu PF. It is important for Sadc not to debase its legitimacy and credibility.
More importantly, it is important for us Zimbabweans to resolve our issues amongst ourselves at times, to avoid unsavoury exposures to dubious interests.
Do some people genuinely want to see Zimbabwe progress or rather they prefer to see us continue to limp as an outpost of conflict and division, unable to produce goods that can threaten their grip on the region’s export markets?
I wonder, I really wonder.
But more importantly it is important for a change to put the country and its people first. The country is suffering. The economy is stagnating, retrenchments are on the increase. The informal sector continues to grow.
Above all, let us resolve the albatross of illegitimacy so as to move forward. The clouds are gathering. It will be a long winter of despair. But this is avoidable. If only good sense, wisdom, and genuine selflessness and patriotism can take charge. Even for a second. If only!
Tendai Biti is the MDC-T secretary-general and MP for Harare East. He was Finance minister between February 2009 and August 2013.